“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

6.3 Annihilation After Death False Teaching

You are in Beware the Wolves -> List of False Teachings

This false teaching, called “annihilation,” claims that when the unsaved/wicked person dies, they simply cease to exist (in both body and soul) and pass away into nothingness. This belief comes from the fact that many people (and even some Christians) do not believe in an eternal hell, regardless of the truth of Scripture.

Two groups that advocate this false teaching: 1) “materialists,” who also deny God and proclaim that this material world and this physical life are the only things we have – that when we die, that’s it, and 2) some so-called “Christian” churches, sects and denominations (e.g., 7th Day Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses).

The Bible emphatically disagrees with both of those viewpoints, and the Bible teachings on it are clear – you were created with an eternal soul/spirit, and it will continue forever. The only unknown is its eternal destination: heaven or hell. Scripture teaches that both the saved and the lost will be resurrected in immortal bodies! Scripture teaches that the spirit (still conscious) goes to be with the Lord at death for those who are saved (“absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” – 2 Corinthians 5:8), and for those who die in sin, their spirit (still conscious also) goes to a holding place (“Sheol,” “Hades”), reserved for the Day of Judgment, after which they will be cast into hell for eternity.

For a detailed treatment of this topic, please see another book we publish called Beyond the Tomb, which presents what Scripture says about your eternal soul and destiny in much greater detail and provides solid Scriptural support for what I’m saying here.  Also, did you know that Scripture uses the exact same word to describe both “eternal” life for the saved in heaven and “eternal” torment for the lost in hell – and yet no one argues that eternal life in heaven means we will cease to exist in heaven. A snippet from the book is given below on the subject of annihilation: [1]

Our position is that sin is such an infinite evil that it will be justly followed by an endless punishment. Our annihilationist friends insist that they believe in eternal punishment but that this punishment is an eternal blotting out of existence, a cessation of being. They deny eternal suffering. Here the issue is drawn. Now, if the wicked can suffer punishment without being conscious of it, why cannot the righteous enjoy eternal happiness unconsciously? The one looks as consistent as the other.

We might ask: Will a person who is annihilated forever feel it more than one who is annihilated for a few thousand years? Our materialist friends hold that all at death are unconscious, go into utter nonexistence. That is all they claim will happen to the wicked at the resurrection. Why take them out of a non-existent state, and then again suddenly blot them out of existence again? What is the difference? If the righteous at death go into non-existence, what is the difference between them and the wicked who will go into the same state beyond the judgment? If mere physical death, passing into a state of non-existence, is eternal punishment, then will not the death of the brutes also be everlasting punishment? Where is the difference?

The next term is “eternal, also derived from aionios:

  • “But the righteous unto life eternal” (Matt. 25:46).
  • “Eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9).
  • “Eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).
  • “Eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14).
  • “Eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15).
  • “Eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10).
  • “King eternal” (1 Tim. 1:17).
  • “In danger of eternal damnation” (Mark 3:29).
  • “Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).

No earthly wisdom can overthrow these solid truths. The same word that measures the life, salvation, redemption, and inheritance of the righteous in heaven, the existence of the Spirit, and the eternal existence of God Himself, measures the damnation of the lost in hell, where they will suffer the “vengeance of eternal fire.” As long as the heavens shall stand, as long as the righteous will enjoy their life with Christ, so long shall the damnation of the wicked last. There is no way to evade the plain testimony of the Bible on this point. Eternal truth teaches eternal damnation in eternal fire.

We shall now come to the word “forever,” from aiona:

  • “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
  • “The Son abideth forever” (John 8:35).
  • “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
  • “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever” (Matt. 6:13).
  • “To whom be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36).
  • “The word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
  • “Him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever” (Rev. 4:9).
  • “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Heb. 1:8).
  • “They shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).

Now, concerning the future of the wicked we read:

  • “To whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever” (2 Pet. 2:17).
  • “To whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13).
  • “Shall be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).
  • “And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone; … and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever” (Rev. 14:10-11).

As long as God shall reign and His throne shall endure, the torments of Satan and wicked men shall last.

On the strength of all the facts presented in this chapter I affirm in the name of the God of the Bible, that the Scriptures nowhere employ any stronger words to express the endless existence of God Himself and of all that pertains to His eternal life, kingdom, and glory, than it uses to set forth both the never-ending felicities of the righteous in heaven, and the never-ending torments of the wicked in hell, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44).

The subject of hell is a related topic (with its own attendant false teaching “Hell Isn’t Real”) that is also covered extensively in Beyond the Tomb. Suffice it to say that hell is a real literal place where sinners will go for all eternity, with various degrees of punishment for their deeds in this world. Beyond the Tomb also lays out what the Bible says about spirit, soul, man, God, heaven, hell, angels, death, what happens after death for sinners and saints, the nature of eternity, etc. That book makes a good follow-up/companion to read after this one.

So, in summary, the Bible unequivocally teaches that both the saved and the lost will be raised eternally! The Bible clearly teaches that there is an eternal heaven and an eternal hell. Also, know that the “Christian” churches, sects and cults that teach wrongly on this subject will also teach wrongly on others as well (e.g., “Soul Sleeping”) – false teachings often travel in a pack, like a pack of “wolves.”

[1] Riggle, H.M. (1929/2018), Beyond the Tomb, (The Gospel Trumpet Company/Holy Spirit Prints).

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Cite this article

Anderson, R. John. "6.3 Annihilation After Death False Teaching." EachDay.org. Access date: May 20, 2024. https://eachday.org/part-vi-beware-the-wolves/6-3-annihilation-after-death/